"Our two most popular drivers are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick. That puts a lot of eyes on the sport," Petty said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "And if she's not here, we lose half of that excitement and half of that popularity. I think it's important for her to be here for NASCAR, just from the standpoint that the more people that watch, the more people know who Trevor Bayne is, they know who A.J. Allmendinger is, they know who some of these other drivers are. You already know who Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are, and Jimmie Johnson. It's important to have more people watch and have more people following. I think she definitely helps that."
Danica Patrick is important to NASCAR, Kyle Petty says.
It's very likely that only followers of NASCAR will realise this commentary by Kyle Petty for what it is - a bombshell. And if you need some insight into that, read the comments on Danica Patrick's Facebook Page.
Her fans, of whom there are many, and her detractors, of whom there are many, will tell you the same thing - for good or bad, Kyle Petty's recent statements are nothing short of astonishing, considering what both he and his famous father, Richard Petty, had to say about Danica's venture into NASCAR.
Nearly a year ago on this blog, I expressed the view Kyle Petty now apparently holds:
Why NASCAR Needs Danica Patrick.
Six months before that post, I expressed this view about "The Power of One":
The Power of One - How I Became a Fan of NASCAR.
What it really comes down to is the "It" factor. You either have "It", or you don't. Drawing power, that is. I refer to myself as a "NASCAR rookie", yet over the past 18 months, since I started following NASCAR, I've come to know all the names, and even much of the racing history, of all the drivers in the Sprint Cup (I don't follow the others, such as trucking and XFinity, as much). And my appreciation of all of them has grown greatly. But in my obviously biased view, none of them has the "It" factor that Danica does. And it's not just a "female thing". Women have competed in NASCAR, and currently compete in IndyCar (and also competed against Danica). It's just that none of them has performed as well as Danica has, and her Wiki Bio says it all.
When it comes to the "It" factor, I really don't think it matters much whether one is male or female.